The realm of patents and copyrights is a tricky space to maneuver through, with the ever-present danger of infringing on existing properties looming overhead. It would seem that Valve Corporation, owners of the Steam digital distribution service, is about to have the first-hand experience with this danger. The company has been named in a forthcoming lawsuit by British Telecom, who claim that Valve has committed patent infringement against them.
In their initial complaint, BT names four distinct patents – Gittins, Newton, Beddus, and Buckley – that they own, representing years of developments in user information and messaging systems. They go on to say that through the implementation of features such as the Steam Library and Steam Messaging, Valve has benefited from BT's work "without authorization or compensation to BT".
BT claims that their "counsel for Intellectual Property Rights" sent a letter to Valve on October 8th, 2015, clearly indicating what patents had been infringed upon. However, Valve apparently provided no response to the letter.
The complaint continues to detail BT's efforts to communicate with Valve, stating:
"On December 21, 2015, BT’s IPR counsel sent a follow-up letter to Valve’s General Counsel reminding Valve that BT had not received any response from Valve and inviting a response.
Once again, neither Valve’s General Counsel nor anyone else at Valve responded to BT.
On April 11, 2016, BT’s IPR counsel sent yet another letter to Valve’s General Counsel indicating that it had been almost seven months since Valve had been placed on notice of infringement without a response. BT noted that its efforts to initiate a dialogue with Valve regarding Valve’s ongoing infringement had gone un-acknowledged and un-answered.
BT advised Valve that if Valve did not respond, BT would have the right to pursue damages against
Valve for Valve’s willful infringement of BT’s patents.
Yet again, neither Valve’s General Counsel nor anyone else at Valve responded to BT’s letter."
Valve has yet to comment on the situation at this time.